A road trip to Peachland.

      Lakefront view

Peachland town clock

Boat dock flag

Orange wall with green lamp   Wall lamp

Church window

Roof stars

My friend Dave called and said, “Want to go on a road trip to Peachland tomorrow?”

Peachland is an easy two and a half hour drive south from my home in Pritchard along highway 97 and although the elevation of both Pritchard and Peachland is the same at 1,180 feet, it is still quite cold at my house with lots of snow, while Peachland was a balmy +13c with slowly greening grass along the road and the lakefront.

So without hesitation I agreed, and when Dave parked his truck in my snow packed driveway at 9am the next morning, I was ready with a 18-200mm lens mounted on my camera and we drove south through the wide Okanagan valleys toward Peachland.

I like the small community that is mostly located on a hillside beside the 135 km long Okanagan Lake and always enjoy wandering its lake front street with my camera. In the summer the restaurants, shops and park are filled with people, but this time of year it is easy to get photographs without anyone getting in the way and I walked back and forth across the street while photographing interesting features on the buildings without worrying about cars.

Dave had his 150-500mm Sigma and began photographing some ducks and fifty or so American Coots (I think some them Mud ducks) swimming in the small boat harbor.

As we stood talking in the warm sun I looked across the lake trying to see the infamous Rattlesnake Island, where the legendary Ogopogo is said to have it’s home.

Ogopogo is the name given to a 40 to 50 foot long sea monster allegedly seen in Okanagan Lake since the 19th century. However, because the evidence is limited to blurry photographs, unbelievers suggest that the sightings are misidentifications of common animals like big otters or floating logs.

I like mysteries and I thought how nice it would be to get a nice sharp picture of that elusive beast with my 18-200mm.  Heck, I’d even share he moment with my friend Dave. After all, he had a 150-500mm lens and surely get a closer picture than me. But the Ogopogo monster wasn’t interested in getting it’s picture taken and was most likely hiding out of site in the lake depths. So, with a disappointed sigh, I left my friend to photograph the cute little Coots and walked down the street to get a picture of the town clock.

I have mentioned before that I like photographing buildings, and strolling along sidewalks with my camera, in cities, large or small is exhilarating. Whether the architecture is low and flat, skyscraping, old bricked, wooden or shiny metal and glass, I always find something different to photograph.

This time I was a bit hurried, we wanted get home before dark and Dave had almost another hour to go after dropping me off. So I ran back and forth trying to limit my photos to shadows, roof ledges and windows. Ok, I strayed from that goal a bit, oh well. Anyway I expect to be back soon.

Summer is on its way and wife and I expect to do some driving around British Columbia. My short trips will always include architectural photography opportunities in the towns and cities I visit and I think its fun to change the visual story by picking out intimate features or only a small part of a scene instead of making a photograph of the whole structure.

I always enjoy comments. Thanks, John

My website is at www.enmanscamera.com

Meeting Photographers and Photographing Bighorn Sheep.


Last week I wrote that I had a great time doing photography as I toured Victoria’s waterfront, and said that along with photographing a different environment I met interesting people, and even spent time with other photographers.

One of my goals for that Victoria excursion was to meet and spend time with the well-known painter, photographer, and documentary filmmaker, Karl Spreitz. His interesting career included working as a news photographer in Prince George, BC, for CTV television, for the BC Department of Travel and Industry, and as staff photographer/editor for Beautiful BC magazine.

Spreitz, now in his eighties, is a fountain of knowledge about film and photography and has been acquainted with most of the important west coast Canadian and American photographers for the past 50 years, and I was delighted to be able to spend the afternoon talking to him about photography and listening to his stories.

I like being a photographer. I also enjoy socializing with other photographers and spending time with a long time photographer like Spreitz is a rare opportunity I will always take if given the chance.

After I returned home from Victoria I was provided the opportunity to go out with my friend Walter to photograph bighorn sheep. We sat on a windy, sagebrush-covered hill overlooking Kamloops Lake. They should have been in rut at this time of year and we hoped to get shots of their violent head butting, but as it was most were bedded down or lazily wandering through the sagebrush.

As I sat I thought about Spreitz making fun of us that live in the BC interior. He said when the magazine needed pictures from the region I live in they would just look for any old picture of sagebrush and bighorn sheep and run with that. At the time I knew he was teasing me, I laughed then and again to myself on that windy hilltop, thinking that was exactly what I was viewing.

Our strategy was to let the sheep get used to us. We sat and waited for something to happen. Once the sheep got comfortable with our presence, we slowly moved in for closer and better pictures.

Both Walter and I had our long telephoto Sigma lenses. Walter’s is a 120-400mm and mine a 150-500mm. For this type of photography we preferred multi-focal (zoom) lenses. The sheep sometimes got pretty close and a fixed focal length lens would have been limiting.

I know I am always recommending tripods, but on that occasion with all the steep climbing and odd angles, tripods made photography awkward, so we had to hand hold those big lenses. The acceptable technique is to follow the old photographer’s rule; “Always use a shutter speed equal to or more than the focal length of the lens.”   I make multiple exposures, expect a few soft images and hope for the best.  However, on that occasion there wasn’t any real action from those lazy bighorn sheep and it was easy to get usable, shake-free exposures. I suppose the challenge was to get images that were interesting.  I don’t know about Walter, but for me that meant climbing around to get lots of different angles, and for that occasion I even ended up taking several pictures of an oncoming train in the colourful Kamloops fall landscape.

Finally, we were overcome when the wind became so strong that it became hard to stand (or sit for that matter) without moving, so we headed home. We had been in the hills most of the day and even though our memory cards weren’t loaded with exciting pictures we agreed that the day had been fun anyway.

How much better can it get? Two consecutive weekends filled with fun photography in very different places, and, in my opinion, both spent with, interesting photographer companions.

I appreciate your comments.

My website is at at www.enmanscamera.com

Photographing Eagle’s Nest – An Adventure


Generally, when looking for eagles viewers are peering upwards, and most photographs of eagles are of eagles flying high or perched overhead. So, thinking of all that, it was with excitement that my friend, Walter, and I began a somewhat hazardous climb up a steep, loose, shale-covered hill that would allow us to photograph an eagle’s nest from above.  He had found and climbed to this nest late in the spring about four years ago, but that time he only made a couple of photographic climbs because he thought he might be bothering the eagles.  I was able to photograph it only once and what a great day that was.

Last week Walter and I made the half-hour climb again and we found a position on a ledge where we could watch and photograph the eagles from a distance slightly further away than where we were four years ago.  This year there was one fluffy chick in the nest and although I am sure they were very aware of our presence, with the added distance between them and us, they didn’t seem to be bothered.

Walter brought his Sigma120-400mm and I had my wife’s 150-500mm. Both are big and heavy lenses, but because we followed the old photographers adage, “always select a shutter speed number that matches the focal length” neither of us had a problem handholding our hefty lenses. I know fixed-focal length lenses tend to focus faster and are usually sharper, but for this excursion we both wanted the versatility of multi-focal length (zoom) lenses.

The only difficulty we had was the climb. The shale was loose and we caused small avalanches as we crossed and slipped over the face of the hill. I stepped wide and constantly leaned into the hill and had to watch where I placed my feet seeking stable footing. And looking about, or straightening up, only increased the probability that one would end up bruised some distance down the steep hill with damaged equipment.

When we finally reached our photography perches we sat quietly for a while as our trip up was noisy and we expected we might have agitated the eagles.  After a time we moved to where we each could see the family of eagles, then pressing our eyes against our viewfinders we both began photographing them.

The day was clear and bright, so a sky shot, although dramatic, was always a silhouette. I wanted to show the eagles on the nest, to include parents and the chick, so most of my shots were level or angled downwards. The eagles would sit at the nest for long periods, and then seemingly take turns flying off to perform acrobatics high in the windy sky. Too high to photograph, but amazing to watch all the same and when they did zoom back to the nest I would start releasing the shutter all the time wondering if any of my captures would be usable.

Bird Forum, www.birdforum.net, claims to be the largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding. The advice on photographing birds, by one of the moderators is, “A bird will pretty much let you know if they feel threatened by you so you should let them be your guide… The birds come first. Sometimes your close proximity to a nest can cause the parents to abandon the nest,… close proximity to a nest will only invite other predators to the nest… The best way to photograph birds is to make yourself stationary rather than chase them down. Stay put, you would be amazed at just how close the birds will come to you once they are comfortable”.

It was a great day for both of us; outdoors, fresh air, sun, wildlife, and great pictures to help us remember.  The eagle chick should be full grown by nine weeks, and now that we know we aren’t bothering them we’ll plan another visit shortly.

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my website www.enmanscamera.com